While some of the Batman characters in the DCU didn't go through drastic changes with the September relaunch like their counterparts elsewhere, the character known as Dick Grayson had a few big changes happen.
In the Nightwing title, written by Kyle Higgins with art by Eddy Barrows, Dick Grayson is no longer wearing the Batman costume he had donned for the last few years. He's also a little younger than he was pre-Flashpoint, with less relationship baggage and a younger attitude as he fights crime in Gotham City.
For the last few issues of Nightwing, the character has been traveling in a circus he inherited as he investigates a mystery surrounding a villain known as Saiko. But in February's Nightwing #6, the character heads back to Gotham.
In part 1 of our interview with Higgins this week, we discussed the circus mystery, and how Nightwing will be participating in "The Night of the Owls," a crossover event that will affect most of the Batman titles.
But now that Dick will be back in Gotham, will his time as Batman influence the series more? Will the character be interacting with other characters?
In this second installment of our interview, we try to find out.
Newsarama: Kyle, as we've been talking about Nightwing, I can't help feeling Dick should share the Book of Names with Bruce. Will they be working together once Dick gets back to Gotham?
Kyle Higgins: They will, if for no other reasons than Scott and I have a lot of fun working together. But yes-- Dick and Bruce will be collaborating. Bruce obviously has his hands full right now, with everything going on with the Court of Owls. But Nightwing's been racking up some frequent flyer miles going back and forth between Gotham (in Batman) and the traveling circus.
Of course, this mystery is very personal, so it's something that Dick is currently trying to solve on his own. It's something he wants to get to the bottom of, because he doesn't even know how deep the rabbit hole goes.
Nrama: One of the things that is unique about Dick Grayson is he's a rare example of a hero who has really evolved. We've seen him change from a child to a man, and while his core attitude has always been there, he's evolved as a person. Is it difficult to portray a hero who has evolved like that? Has it challenged you? Or do you like the fact that you have to establish who he is — along with who he's been — to these potential new readers?
Higgins: Well, if you look at issue #1 and the sheer amount of voiceover in that issue, I think you'll see that it’s a definite challenge. Nightwing is trickier to establish than a character like Deathstroke, for example, which we got to—almost—completely start fresh with.
Nightwing is one of those few characters that is actually defined and built on a core of change, which is very weird in an industry and a medium that relies on the illusion of change. Dick Grayson is one of the few characters that are built around the idea of growing up.
While it's something I don't want to shy away from, you can only go to that well of "I'm trying to get out of my father's shadow" so many times. With Nightwing, I think it’s stale at this point. So that's something I wanted to stay away from, and hopefully, by keeping him in Gotham City going forward, it will be a way of doing something new with Nightwing and Dick Grayson in the way that he's not looking for Bruce's approval. He's just doing what he thinks is best and what he wants to do. If that puts him in unison with Bruce, then great. If it puts him in conflict with Bruce, then he's fine with that too.
Nrama: Yet you established in the first issue that he has been Batman. Will we see more of what he learned from Batman Inc. show up in this series?
Higgins: We will. There are some things that come up during the Night of the Owls storyline that raise questions for him as to the way that he operates, and the way that he and Batman operate in the city. Nightwing is in the unique position of having been both Robin and Nightwing, and also Batman. So he has a lot of experience to draw from, as well as a lot of ideas about what he thinks works and what he thinks doesn’t.
Nrama: We've seen him with Barbara, but not as much with the rest of the Batman family. That's particularly different from the relationship he was starting to build with Damian in the pre-Flashpoint universe. Will we see him together with the other characters in Gotham? Maybe during the Night of the Owls event?
Higgins: Yes, definitely. Not during the Night of the Owls, but I do have a team-up with Dick and Damian that I'm looking forward to writing. And yeah, there will also be something with him and Tim.
Nrama: For the fans of Cassandra and Stephanie, is there any chance we'll see those characters? Fans seemed to really respond to the way you wrote Cassie in Gates of Gotham.
Higgins: You know, I'd love to do something with them. There are a lot of Cass and Steph fans, both at DC and among readers. We're taking a look at all of them and seeing if there are places that feel natural for them to enter the New 52. I would love to do something with Cass or Stephanie, but I would want to make sure it's the right time and the right place for those stories. It's definitely something that has crossed my mind and the editors' minds though. So stay tuned.
Nrama: I heard you say on a podcast that, "in some ways, Nightwing is a better hero and a better fit for Gotham City than Batman is." Can you explain that?
Higgins: I think that a lot of what's happening in "The Night of the Owls" story and in Scott's Court of Owls storyline — and I don't want to speak too much for him — but a lot of it up to this point has been the Court saying to Bruce, "you don't matter in Gotham City." And in a lot of ways, they’re right. Batman has been in Gotham for several years now, and the city is still terrible. You can make the argument that it would be much worse without Batman, but the other side of the argument is… would it be better with someone else? Would it be better with different tactics and a different approach?"I don't know the answer to that, or if there even is an answer, but I do think that in some ways, Nightwing might be a better fit. He’s more accessible than Batman, he's someone who is more empathetic than Batman, and while Batman is more of an urban myth and symbol of fear to criminals, Nightwing can be a little bit brighter symbol to the city. If you're going forward and trying to save a city that's as corrupt and down-beaten as Gotham, sometimes hope and optimism are powerful tools.
Nrama: But isn't that why Batman kind of needed a Robin? To counter his nature? Couldn't the truth be that the best approach is both ways, together?
Higgins: Yeah, and that's something that I'm very interested in exploring. That's really where the direction of the series is headed.
Nrama: How has it been working with Eddy Barrows? And he's on the title as the regular artist still, isn't he?
Higgins: Yeah, Eddy's on the series. We've got Geraldo Borges helping out on issues #6 and #7, along with Eddy, and then Eddy's drawing all the Night of the Owls stuff in issues #8 and #9. And he's on going forward.Eddy's fantastic to work with. The book has such a kinetic energy about it, and Eddy's layouts and panel designs really play into that. It's been a lot of fun.
Nrama: As issue #5 has wrapped up in January, is there anything you want to tell fans about what we've had so far, and where the series as a whole is heading into 2012?
Higgins: There will be a lot in the series coming out of this first arc. Dick Grayson/Nightwing is a very important character both in Gotham City and in the DC Universe… and we're looking to treat him as such.
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